837.51 Public Works Debt/323

The Ambassador in Cuba (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State

No. 577

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my confidential despatch no. 572 of July 17, 1940, with which I transmitted a memorandum of a conversation which I had with the President of Cuba, Dr. Laredo Brú, on July 13th, during which the President indicated that it might be desirable for the Cuban Government to separate from the consideration of this matter the obligation due Purdy & Henderson.

In view of the importance of the settlement of the obligations due Warren Brothers and Purdy & Henderson in the relations between the United States and Cuba, and in view of the failure of the Cuban Government to take action in the settlement of these obligations, despite repeated assurances to the effect that the obligations would be [Page 753] settled without delay, I considered that I should immediately discuss this matter further with the Secretary of State, Dr. Campa, and bring to his attention my conversation with the President, the observations I had made to the President, as well as the contents of the second paragraph of the Department’s instruction to this Embassy of July 2, 1940. I therefore called on Dr. Campa this morning and discussed this matter again at length with him, and at the end of the conversation left with him the aide-mémoire, a copy of which is appended hereto.

Dr. Campa stated that the President had not yet informed him of his conversation with me, and he expressed surprise that the President should have indicated this desirability of separating from the consideration of this matter the obligations due Purdy & Henderson. Dr. Campa states that his attitude on this matter was well known, that he was in agreement with the views which I had expressed to him on the importance of the settlement of these obligations and that in his opinion the settlement authorized by the Congress should be on the basis of the agreement between the Cuban Government and the creditors arrived at in November 1938.

Dr. Campa expressed great concern that the matter had not been settled before this and stated that he would again and without delay express his views to the President, Dr. Laredo Brú, and to others.

I have made it clear to the President and to the Secretary of State that our Government could not recognize any solution other than that which it has constantly supported, which is the arrangement reached between the Cuban Government and the creditors in November 1938, and which agreement includes the obligations due Purdy & Henderson.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith

The American Embassy to the Cuban Department of State


The American firms, Warren Brothers, Incorporated, and the Purdy & Henderson Company, reached an agreement with the Cuban Government in November 1938, for the payment of certain credits owed by the Cuban Government to those companies and fully recognized by the Cuban Government as a result of several separate investigations made by duly authorized representatives of that Government. The agreement was incorporated in a bill introduced in the Cuban Senate by Senator Casanova during the same month. Similar legislation was recently introduced in the Cuban House of Representatives. It has now been suggested that the debt due to the Purdy & Henderson Company be eliminated from the bill.

[Page 754]

As already stated, this debt was included in the settlement reached between the Cuban Government and the creditors in November 1938, and was included in legislation introduced” in the Cuban Senate during that month and recently in the House of Representatives. It is the view of the Government of the United States that the agreement in question constitutes a clearly recognized obligation of the Cuban Government to the creditors in question, and that there is no justification for any further investigation or review of either of these claims.